Actress Ashley Judd's divorce announcement
on Tuesday raised her profile among those speculating she might run in Kentucky against Sen. Mitch McConnell, but reports say the Senate minority leader was already looking forward to a campaign against the progressive Hollywood celebrity.
Prior to Judd's divorce announcement, she was considered by some to be a candidate to be reckoned with for the Democratic ticket in the 2014 Senate race against McConnell, considering her star appeal, political activism, and being a native Kentuckian. Despite the speculation, Judd wouldn't confirm the rumors when they surfaced last November.
The lack of certainty didn't stop McConnell's campaign from preparing and secretly hoping for a challenge from the Golden Globe-nominated actress, according to The National Journal
McConnell's campaign felt Judd's liberal Hollywood views would disqualify her in the eyes of many conservative and middle of the road Kentuckians, TNJ reported. Now, Judd's divorce could be a further detriment to her image among voters in the socially conservative state,
An outspoken progressive, Judd made headlines last April when she starred in a pro-choice commercial mocking pro-life Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
In the ad, Judd along with other female Hollywood celebrities, appeared to make light of a woman's decision to have an abortion by comparing aborting a fetus to concluding a presidential campaign.
An end to Judd's political aspirations in Kentucky could open the door to more conservative and better situated Democrats to challenge McConnell, who TNJ describes as "vulnerable," such as Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
If the race had come down to Judd and McConnell, who is the longest-serving U.S. senator in Kentucky's history, the incumbent would have had a four-point edge of 47-43, as of late last year, according to longtime pollster Jan van Lohuizen.
Speculation about celebrities getting into politics often rides along for awhile on entertainment-related media before serious political reporters dig into it. Much of the coverage in November about Judd's possible run came from Us Weekly.
In December, actor and director Ben Affleck was the center of similar speculation that he would compete for the Senate seat being vacated by John Kerry after his nomination as secretary of state. Affleck apparently toyed with the idea before ruling it out in a Facebook post on Christmas Eve.
On Tuesday, Judd, 44, and her three-time Indianapolis 500 winning husband Dario Franchitti, 39, called it quits after more than 11 years of marriage. The break-up was confirmed Tuesday night through a joint statement released to People magazine.
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